Monday, November 14, 2011

Blow Wind Blow

Sometimes when the northwest winds howl across Georgia Strait and into English Bay it's just too nasty to go for my morning swim.  The waves that get created once the wind is more than 25 knots are quite strong, and they are often carrying logs and other debris which can make things a little dangerous.  If I'm in the mood to fight my way through the waves for a few hundred metres I can enjoy a bit of an easy body surf back to shore but otherwise it doesn't make for the best swimming conditions.  
English Bay photo by Junie Quiroga
Needless to say gale force winds don't make the best conditions for boaters either, particularly if they are at anchor.  Riding at anchor in English Bay are a number of boats in various states of neglect whose owners cannot find or afford permanent moorage at a marina.  While one of the advantages of anchoring is that it's free it certainly has its disadvantages as well, with the principle one having to be at the mercy of the elements. No matter how well the anchor has been set there's always the risk it may come loose, even the big freighters have been known to pull anchor and drift around, and for small sailboats this is fatal.

Sailboat on Kits Beach photo by Junie Quiroga
Last April a  violent wind storm washed up 3 boats onto Kits Beach and a 4th on the beach near the Maritime Museum.  Since then storms have claimed a few others as well but today 3 more boats ended up on shore with one at Kits Beach, one at the Maritime Museum and another on Sunset Beach.  At a minimum this usually means a boat filled with sand and water and everything inside messed up and broken, but it can also result in severely damaged hulls, rigging and other components. 

Sailboat on Maritime Museum Beach photo by Junie Quiroga
As a fellow boater I can only imagine the heartbreak of an owner finding their boat in this condition.  To add insult to injury there probably isn't any insurance coverage and now expensive arrangements have to be made for the removal and/or repairs.  Owning a boat is always a bit of a financial drain but circumstances like these are particularly upsetting.  The only thing worse would be having this happen while still being on board. 

Sailboat on Sunset Beach photo by Junie Quiroga

There was a time when anyone could indefinitely anchor their boat in the calm and safe waters of False Creek, but this privilege was abused by so many boaters the rules had to be changed.  It wasn't in anyone's interest to have a flotilla of derelict boats littering up the inner harbour. Now boaters are only allowed a 2 week anchoring period and then the boat has to leave.  This allows for visiting boaters to have a place to drop the hook but effectively pushes out the poorer locals who don't want to pay the expensive monthly moorage offered by the marinas. One could argue that if you can't afford to keep a boat perhaps you shouldn't have one and, every time there's a storm and a few more drift onto the beaches, the point becomes even more obvious.


  1. Wow, now that's one nasty storm. Very sad to see the boats all broken up and full of sea water. Great article.